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Spartacus

4.4 out of 5 stars 682 customer reviews

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DVD
(Mar 31, 1998)
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DVD Video
1
$9.99
$5.41 $3.42
DVD
(Apr 24, 2001)
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The Criterion Collection
2
$29.24 $14.84
DVD
(Jun 05, 2012)
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Universal's 100th Anniversary Edition
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$9.95
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This presentation of the powerful film classic features an additional five minutes of footage cut from the film's original release, plus the original overture and extended soundtrack. Director Stanley Kubrick tells the tale of Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), the bold gladiator slave and Varinia (Jean Simmons), the woman who believed in his cause. Challenged by the power-hungry General Crassus (Laurence Olivier), Spartacus is forced to face his convictions and the power of the Imperial Rome at its glorious height. The inspirational true account of man's eternal struggle for freedom, Spartacus combines history with spectacle to create a moving drama of love and commitment.

Amazon.com

Stanley Kubrick was only 31 years old when Kirk Douglas (star of Kubrick's classic Paths of Glory) recruited the young director to pilot this epic saga, in which the rebellious slave Spartacus (played by Douglas) leads a freedom revolt against the decadent Roman Empire. Kubrick would later disown the film because it was not a personal project--he was merely a director-for-hire--but Spartacus remains one of the best of Hollywood's grand historical epics. With an intelligent screenplay by then-blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo (from a novel by Howard Fast), its message of moral integrity and courageous conviction is still quite powerful, and the all-star cast (including Charles Laughton in full toga) is full of entertaining surprises. Fully restored in 1991 to include scenes deleted from the original 1960 release, the full-length Spartacus is a grand-scale cinematic marvel, offering some of the most awesome battles ever filmed and a central performance by Douglas that's as sensitively emotional as it is intensely heroic. Jean Simmons plays the slave woman who becomes Spartacus's wife, and Peter Ustinov steals the show with his frequently hilarious, Oscar-winning performance as a slave trader who shamelessly curries favor with his Roman superiors. The restored version also includes a formerly deleted bathhouse scene in which Laurence Olivier plays a bisexual Roman senator (with restored dialogue dubbed by Anthony Hopkins) who gets hot and bothered over a slave servant played by Tony Curtis. These and other restored scenes expand the film to just over three hours in length. Despite some forgivable lulls, this is a rousing and substantial drama that grabs and holds your attention. Breaking tradition with sophisticated themes and a downbeat (yet eminently noble) conclusion, Spartacus is a thinking person's epic, rising above mere spectacle with a story as impressive as its widescreen action and Oscar-winning sets. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Production Notes
  • Cast and Filmmakers
  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis, Peter Ustinov, Charles Laughton
    • Directors: Stanley Kubrick
    • Writers: Dalton Trumbo
    • Producers: Kirk Douglas, Edward Lewis
    • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Letterboxed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
    • Subtitles: English, Spanish
    • Dubbed: French
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.21:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
      PG-13
      Parental Guidance Suggested
    • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
    • DVD Release Date: March 31, 1998
    • Run Time: 197 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (682 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: 0783226039
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,321 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Spartacus" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 6, 2003
    Format: DVD
    If you're a fan of the movie "Spartacus", this is the version to get; the Universal DVD is as bare bones as they get with just the movie. The Criterion version looks great. The facelift the film received help return much of its luster. Kubrick later disowned his version of the epic Hollywood Sword & Sandal genre, but Kubrick brings much of his sensibility to bear; the fight sequences and epic vistas bring to mind Kubrick's work on Paths of Glory and 2001. True, this isn't a complete Kubrick picture; Kubrick had nothing to do with the screenplay and Douglas had all but cast the picture in collaboration with director Anthony Mann (dismissed after butting heads with Douglas one too many times).

    Is it Kubrick's finest film? Well, frankly no it isn't. It's an interesting mishmash between Kubrick's detached, ironic style and Hollywood glitz. Spartacus is Kubrick for people who don't care for Kubrick's detached style. It doesn't measure up to Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001 or A Clockwork Orange although it does compare favorable to the much darker Paths of Glory.

    Kubrick stated that his intent at the time was to subvert the cliches of the genre. As a result, Kubrick manages to reinvent a genre that was in danger of becoming a parody of itself. As a collaborative effort, Spartacus is a great piece of entertainment and far more sophisticated than almost everything else that came out of Hollywood at the time.

    The transfer is beautiful with much of Kubrick's bold use of color restored. The strong acting of most of the cast has always been a virtue of Sparatcus. The soundtrack has been meticulously transferred to 5.1 and Alex North's beatiful score has never sounded so sweet, tragic and powerful before. The audio commentary is the same one that was on the laserdisc version.
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    Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
    ***October 2015 Update***

    Universal's 2010 release of this film on Blu-Ray was a piece of garbage. My review below was made on a 52" screen.I've since created a projection room in my home and watch on a 100" screen. The flaws of that 2010 disc are so glaringly obvious now that it defies belief that Universal even released it.

    Well, Universal has gone back and restored Spartacus from a fresh 6k scan of the 35mm Technirama color separates. They've cleaned up the print of dirt and scratches and color corrected the whole film. They've created new 5.1 and 7.1 channel HD audio mixes.

    In short, the results speak for themselves. Detail is superb. Individual grains of sand, facial pores (which were almost entirely absent in the 2010 craporama), skin creases, very light film grain, it's all here. And it's blissfully free of any evident DNR or edge enhancement. Colors pop but not unnaturally so. Black levels are strong and stable but not crushed. In a word, superlative. In more than one word, ravishing, transporting, reminds the viewer of how magical watching a movie can be.

    I am bumping my rating up to 4 stars. But I can't in good conscience go with 5, because of the history. Universal owes its customers an apology, if not a refund for the travesty they foisted upon them in 2010. I doubt we'll see any of it (they have not replied to my customer service query about a refund or disc exchange). But this disc is at least a good start.

    NOTE TO CUSTOMERS:

    Do not under any circumstances buy the 2010 edition of this movie.
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    6 Comments 59 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    Long before Russell Crowe picked up his sword and battled corrupt Roman emperors, Kirk Douglas showed him the way in "Spartacus". This epic 1960 film still ranks as one of the best performances in Douglas's distinguished career, and it marked his second collaboration with famed director Stanley Kubrick. Even more than "Gladiator", "Spartacus" is based on a real historical event, although it greatly exaggerates the actual history. Spartacus was a Roman slave in the first century AD who became a gladiator for the Romans, but then escaped and formed an enormous army (estimated at anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000) of freed slaves and gladiators. For the next year this army, under Spartacus's leadership, terrorized the Italian countryside, until they were finally trapped and destroyed in battle with the still-powerful Roman Army.

    As an old-fashioned Hollywood epic, "Spartacus" doesn't disappoint the viewer - there are epic battle scenes, high drama, and some great acting by several Hollywood legends. Interestingly, the film's producers felt that the contrast between the slave-gladiators and their corrupt Roman masters would be given greater contrast if they cast British actors (Sir Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, Charles Laughton) as the leading Roman characters, and American actors as the slaves (Douglas, Tony Curtis, Jean Simmons). All of the actors listed above shine in this film - Olivier simply drips with menace and hypocrisy as the great Roman General Crassus, who will stop at nothing to crush the slave revolt and bring the entire Roman Empire under his personal control. Laughton is delightful as Gracchus, a fat and somewhat corrupt, but also clever and freedom-loving, Roman Senator who loathes Crassus.
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    2 Comments 77 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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